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CEBU CITY, Philippines — Vietnam officially rolls out the red carpet to the region’s top athletes tonight as the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) opens in the nation’s capital, Hanoi.
Although some sports such as kurash, pencak silat, football, handball, kickboxing, and diving already commenced in different venues earlier this week, the bulk of the action of the 40 featured events is yet to start.
One of the Philippines’ main missions is to retain its top spot in the medal tally which it achieved in the 2019 edition of the regional meet held in the country.
Currently, the Philippines is in the fourth spot in the latest medal tally as of May 12, 2022, with one gold courtesy of Mary Francine Padios in the women’s pencak silat, five silver medals, and five bronzes.
Vietnam leads the medal tally with a 10-7-10 (gold-silver-bronze) tally followed by Malaysia (9-3-6), and Indonesia (3-4-0).
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner and chef de mission Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez told the 641-strong Filipino athletes vying in 38 sports disciplines to maintain focus and give their best shot to win medals and make the nation proud.
“Let’s encourage our athletes, let’s pray for them. They have prepared hard for this, it’s their time to shine now,’’ said Fernandez.
The Philippine crusade to corner a large hoard of medals will go into overdrive starting Friday following tonight’s opening ceremony where 31 Filipino athletes and officials led by flag-bearer Ernest John Obiena of pole vault attended the parade of nations at the My Dinh National Stadium.
“I’m pretty much optimistic that our standings will improve as the games come along. We’re hoping and praying. They have to focus and they know what to do. These games are all about the athletes,’’ said Fernandez.
The PSC funded the full participation of the 980-strong Philippine delegation in these Games, which the nation ruled during its 2019 hosting.
“Everyday challenges come along. I’m thankful to the PSC staff who are all veterans and experienced in the SEA Games. They know how to solve these challenges,’’ said Fernandez.
More than half of the entire Philippine contingent has arrived with athletes from archery, beach volleyball, dancesport, esports, sepak takraw, fencing, and swimming checking in yesterday in the Vietnamese capital.
Aside from the kickboxing finals on Friday, Filipino athletes in badminton, 3×3 basketball, billiards and snooker, bodybuilding, chess, esports, fencing, golf, gymnastics, sepak takraw, table tennis, tennis, wushu, and indoor volleyball will start their hunt for the medals on the same day. /rcg
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